From mountains high, to valleys low, to oceans deep and all in between, there is something for the whole family to enjoy and experience at the Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah January 18-21.
“Mountainfilm is about celebrating the indomitable human spirit and celebrating inspiration. We use these films to inspire our audience to get out and do something to make their community, their family, and their life just a little bit better,” said Leslie Carey, director of Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah.
The festival started Memorial Day weekend in 1979 in Telluride, CO and has been happening that same weekend ever since. This festival is a documentary film festival that showcases nonfiction stories about environmental protection, cultural diversity, adventures and social justice issues that matter.
In partnership with Mountainfilm, Mountainfilm on Tour Savannah brings these remarkable stories to our community.
“We are one of the tour cities out of 200 plus tour cities around the world. Our education program is the largest education program by far of all other tour cities and our festival is one of the largest ones on the tours as well,” said Carey.
Years ago, what started as a one day festival with about 50 people at Charles H. Morris Center in Savannah has grown to a four-day festival that reaches thousands with year-round programming aimed at students, seniors, veterans and active military.
Evening programs begin on Friday, Jan. 20, at 7:00 p.m. at Trustees Theater, with the screening of “Torn,” an award-winning feature film by director Max Lowe. The film is about legendary climber Alex Lowe who was tragically lost alongside cameraman and fellow climber David Bridges in a deadly avalanche on the slopes of the Tibetan mountain, Shishapangma in 1999.
Alex’s best friend and climbing partner, renowned mountaineer Conrad Anker, miraculously survived the avalanche. Director and film subject Max Lowe will be in Savannah for a Q&A session with the audience immediately following the film’s screening.
Paired along with the feature is the short film “Malik,” which will be followed by a Q&A with Malik Martin, whose story and relationship with Conrad Anker is told in the film. From disparate backgrounds seemingly worlds apart, Martin and Anker bridge various divides our society has erected between them through brotherhood and heartfelt connection.
Martin says of their atypical commonalities, “Conrad lost all his homies in the mountains, and I’ve lost all my homies in the hood.” The film is testimony that we can sometimes find the most meaning in the unlikeliest of friendships.
Friday night’s showings also include an animated deforestation tale, “The Little Forest,” “Julieta & the Turtles in the Plastic Soup,” the story of a teenage girl fighting for the health of turtles and the elimination of pollution, “Shaba,” about elephant rescuers, and others, including “Adventures at Home,” “This is Home: Jackson Gladstone,” “The Train Station,” “Fuel,” and “Power Snow Hokkaido.”
“Caliefah,” is the story of Caliefah Edmonds, a single mother, home gardener, soapmaker, and – after attending classes for over 13 years – a recent college graduate.
“It’s just an amazing story. She lost her job and started soapmaking during the pandemic – a skill she learned from her grandparents. She started selling as a street vendor during the pandemic and had such an incredible response from the community,” said Carey.
“Caliefah” was filmed during Juneteenth of 2020 in South Los Angeles at the height of the Black Lives Matter movement. In the film, she leverages the skills learned from her elders to provide for her community, and in return, her community supports her in a profound way.
Edmonds will be in Savannah for a live Q&A with the audience after her film screening Saturday night as well. Canyon Woodward and Chloe Maxmin, from the film “Rural Runners,” will also be present for a Q&A with the audience after their film.
“Huge thanks to Dr. (Ann) Levett (Superintendent of Savannah Chatham Co. Public Schools) and her team, they really made that happen. They handle the logistics of busing all the kids in. It’s nothing like the excitement the kids get when seeing these films and chatting with the filmmakers after,” said Carey.
On-site screenings are scheduled for Yamacraw Performing Arts Ctr. and Beach High School on Wednesday; the program continues on Thursday and Friday at Trustees Theater and Lucas Theatre.
Festival coordinators say they hope they have done a great job in strategically selecting films for the students in Savannah.
“We love getting the kids involved because at Mountainfilm, we’re all about inspiration and we want to really target our students and get them inspired to help us create a better world, which is our mission at Mountainfilm,” said Carey.
“Malik” and “Caliefah” will be shown to the students. Malik Martin will be there for a Q&A with the students.
Carey expressed Malik’s excitement to come to Savannah, screen his film and do the Q&A with a group of excited students.
“We are thrilled to have him here to talk about his film. He is from Memphis and had a rough go at life but he is working to make his community better and really building on this relationship he’s developed with Conrad,” said Carey.
“In addition to ‘Movies that Matter’ we organize and manage a mentoring program every spring. In collaboration with Savannah Film Academy (SFA), we select five local public high school students who are interested in pursuing a degree in filmmaking and pair them with five SFA students for a three-month mentoring program,” said Carey.
For the last four years, they have also awarded a college scholarship to high school seniors who plan to pursue an advanced degree in filmmaking.
For a full schedule and more information about festival events and tickets, visit mountainfilmsav.org